NMH Launches Second campus newspaper

Northfield Mount Hermon students began printing their second campus newspaper, The Hermonite, on February 1. Founded by Jack Burnham, an NMH Junior, The Hermonite will coexist with The Bridge, NMH’s original student newspaper. Burnham will assume the role of Editor-in-Chief. Burnham said that he established The Hermonite to chronicle the events and issues pertaining to NMH and its students, a role he felt The Bridge was not fully performing. Burnham said The Bridge would often publish articles on topics that were not immediately related to the NMH community. “I am hesitant to publish any article not directly relevant to NMH,” he said. The Hermonite and The Bridge’s philosophies also differ in that The Hermonite’s manifesto emphasizes increased editorial independence, whereas The Bridge gives more power to its faculty adviser. The charter of The Hermonite states that the newspaper does not tolerate censorship of their content, that the Editor-in-Chief has full responsibility for the newspaper and its content and that the NMH faculty will not make any final decisions on the contents of The Hermonite. Burnham said he had to gather students to handle layout, distribution and other components of newspaper operation before The Hermonite was officially accredited. The paper eventually received funding from the NMH administration and gained status as a co-curricular requirement. The staff of both newspapers discussed the impact of having competing student newspapers on journalism at NMH. Peter Weis, Northfield Mount Hermon’s School Archivist and Faculty Advisor to The Hermonite, said that both newspapers have agreed on a printing schedule where each paper prints on alternate weeks. “The result is a school paper appearing weekly. From my standpoint that would be ideal,” said Weis. “My hope is that the friendly competition between these newspapers will result in a more complete picture of the school year,” he continued. Jim Block, NMH Instructor in English and Faculty Advisor to The Bridge said The Bridge staff welcomes the increased competition The Hermonite will bring. Weis said he was interested in Burnham’s venture because their goals for the paper coincide. Weis said, “[We both emphasize] the preservation and documentation of our present, so that with the passage of time, our past is documented.” “Because I am not a journalist and because I want the students who write for the Hermonite to truly ‘own it,’ I will exercise limited oversight,” he added. Weis said his relaxed role places more responsibility on the Editorial Board and that they will have to be very careful when making their editorial decisions. Though both newspapers have faculty advisors, the advisor to The Bridge has more say in editorial decisions than the advisor to The Hermonite. Block said he tries to provide students with journalistic freedom. “In the fifteen years or so that I have advised the Bridge, I’ve questioned only stories that have not followed good journalistic practice,” Block wrote in an email to The Phillipian. “In practice, the Bridge’s Editor is the final decider.” Before founding The Hermonite, Burnham looked at a number of other student publications to garner a sense of how a school newspaper operates. “The Phillipian struck me as having a charter that is very open, where the writers and editors write how they choose, not the administration,” said Burnham. “I liked how clear it was of its independence, but how it also stated that they were responsible for what they say.” “We used several points from The Phillipian charter as an inspiration for our own, primarily the part regarding the ultimate responsibility for the publication resting with the Editor-in-Chief,” Burnham continued. The Hermonite consists of several sections, including News, Student Life, Arts, Opinions and Sports. The paper’s first issue reported on the sale of NMH campus land, recent campus events at NMH and notable speakers who presented at the school.